What are Tennis Injuries?
Tennis is a high-energy sport that can be hard on all the major joints of the body. The acute and chronic injuries that occur from playing tennis are known as tennis injuries. About two-thirds of the injuries are chronic or overuse injuries that affect the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The remaining one-third are traumatic injuries that usually affect the lower extremities.
Common Tennis Injuries
Some of the common tennis injuries include:
- Tennis Elbow: Also known as lateral epicondylitis, the condition is characterized by pain in the tendon on the outer aspect of the elbow that radiates down the arm. It is caused by tight gripping of the racket while hitting the tennis ball.
- Rotator Cuff Tears: Damage to the rotator cuff in the shoulder is caused by repetitive overhead movements such as practicing tennis serves without adequately warming up the joint.
- Knee Ligament Injuries: The ligaments that surround and support the knee can be injured by rapidly changing direction or making sudden stops while running.
- Patellar Tendonitis: This is an injury to the tendon that attaches the kneecap to the shinbone. It is usually caused by excessive jumping and running.
- Ankle Sprains: The injury may occur due to twisting the ankle while making sharp turns on the tennis court or due to overuse.
- Achilles Tendonitis: Inflammation and irritation of the Achilles tendon may be caused by sudden stress on the tendon caused by pushing off of the foot with the knee in extension or smaller continuous stresses from excessive running.
- Shin Splints: Also known as tibial stress syndrome, the condition is characterized by pain in the front of the shinbone. Shin splints are usually caused due to excessive running or wearing improperly fitted or worn-out footwear.
- Muscle Strains: Calf, quadriceps, hamstring, and groin strains can occur from overextending yourself to reach the tennis ball or quick movements which can put a tremendous load on the muscles and tendons.
Preventing Tennis Injuries
The risks of sustaining an injury while playing tennis can be significantly reduced by observing the following precautions:
- Maintain an adequate level of fitness with a balanced exercise program that includes resistance training, stretching, and aerobic activity in addition to sport-specific training.
- Always take the time to warm up your muscles and joints with light activity such as jogging in place or range-of-motion exercises.
- Wear properly fitting tennis shoes with anti-skid soles, wrist bands, caps, and lightweight comfortable clothing that offers moisture absorption.
- Drink plenty of water before, during, and after a game or training session to stay well hydrated and avoid muscle cramps.
- Get a pre-season physical evaluation to ensure you are fit enough to play the game.